Do you know what your customers want?
You might think so, but how can you be sure? It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day running of an eCommerce business and drift away from being 100% customer-focused. You probably spend a lot of time and money perfecting processes and increasing efficiencies with tools like enterprise security systems and optimization software.
Sometimes it’s best to go back to basics.
This article explains how UX research works and gives a few tips on conducting it successfully. All of which will be good news for your bottom line.
What Is UX Research?
The goal of UX research is to find out how consumers think and behave so that we can design products that fit their needs. It uses a wide range of techniques to do this, which we’ll explore in more detail later.
Good UX research is the foundation of product development. While product research tools can be a vital component of your eCommerce business’s success, UX research is crucial for understanding your customers’ experience through the customer journey. It helps identify pain points and other issues you may not have been aware of.
Why Is UX Research Important for eCommerce?
UX research is an invaluable part of the product development cycle, but it’s more than that. It feeds into every aspect of the user experience and offers crucial insights to help you make better marketing decisions. Rather than being a one-off process, it’s an iterative one. It’s relevant at every stage of the development and marketing cycle.
It’s worth investing in. Many modern businesses spend heavily on protecting themselves and their customers from common data vulnerabilities. But gaining a complete understanding of how your customers interact with your site and engage with the products you sell is just as vital for your business’s wellbeing.
If you produce your own products, it’s evident that knowing what your target customers want to buy is essential. UX research helps you create products relevant to your customers and fulfill their needs. It should also mean creating products that are easy to use. Done well, that translates into boosting sales and growing your customer base over time.
It’s not just about product development, though. How your customers feel as they use your site is just as important to know about. Even if business is good, could it be better? What about your customer support options? If you handle a large volume of calls, there are some excellent call parking tools to help you manage them.
Customer satisfaction can seem like an elusive metric sometimes, but it’s a key indicator of engagement. The best way to find out how happy your customers are is to ask them – and that’s where UX research comes in. Using great VoIP call center solutions can help with this.
So how do you get started with the process?
The UX Research Process
The strength of UX research is that it is based on solid data. It’s all too easy to let confirmation bias cloud your judgment. When you’ve been closely involved in product development or site creation, it can be hard to see the situation through other people’s eyes.
Effective UX research follows a strictly defined process:
Step 1 – Objectives: What information do you want to find?
Step 2 – Hypotheses: What do you think you already know?
Step 3 – Methods: Select appropriate messages depending on your goals and available resources.
Step 4 – Data collection: Put the chosen methods to work.
Step 5 – Review: What have you learned, and how can you act on the new insights?
The step we’re going to look at now in a little more detail is step 3: methods.
UX Research Methods
From product identification to distribution logistics, there’s a lot to think about when running an eCommerce business. So where possible, it’s best not to reinvent the wheel. Luckily, UX research is a well-trodden path and there are more than enough well-established techniques to take your pick from. We’re going to look at three of the most commonly practiced ones.
These are also called user groups and can be an excellent way to harvest precious qualitative data. They are valuable for informing strategy. Usually, they involve four to six people and are conducted face-to-face. However, it is possible to hold a focus group virtually with safe video conferencing tools. One advantage of doing this is you can cast your net wider for recruits.
Regardless of the setting, the right length of time for a focus group meeting is generally around 90 minutes. That gives enough time to explore a few questions in depth and for everyone to have an opportunity to speak. On the other hand, it’s not so long that invitees will start losing concentration and getting restless. This could take place in person or virtually using a WebEx alternative platform.’
One thing to watch out for is groupthink. That’s to say, the tendency for people to suppress their own opinions in a group setting if they’re different. Since the whole point of holding a focus group is to understand various perspectives, this can be a problem.
Fortunately, with good preparation, you can alleviate this risk to some extent. Make sure that you:
Ask well-designed questions: questions should be open-ended but focused; they should also not be leading in any way. Remember – you want to encourage people to share their views, not assume what those views are in advance.
Select no more than five topics: it’s better to go into fewer topics in depth than pepper your invitees with questions and only receive superficial responses.
Don’t invite too many people: as I’ve said, somewhere between four and six people is a good number. It means everyone has a chance to contribute within the time available.
We’re all familiar with these. You’ve probably had the experience of purchasing a service or product only to find a follow-up email in your inbox a few days later asking for feedback.
There are several reasons online surveys are a popular choice for UX research. Firstly, they are easy to send out to large numbers of people. If only a small proportion responds, that’s still a lot of data. Information derived from online surveys can be helpful for everything from tweaking product development to deciding which affiliate marketing programs to use to maximize returns.
They’re also easy and relatively cheap to set up. That can lead to a problem: sometimes, there’s not enough care taken with the survey design. To conduct online surveys like a pro, you should:
Keep the questions simple: Short, easy-to-understand questions will promote better feedback. Avoid ambiguity.
Keep the survey short: You may be curious to investigate many things but choose just a few to focus on. Long surveys have a low completion rate; people give up.
Keep it interesting: mix up your questions: include some multiple choice and some open-ended.
This involves one interviewer talking to a single interviewee. It might seem like an unusually heavy time investment, particularly if your organization’s sales and marketing strategies tend to follow more of a “do it in bulk” strategy, such as using a contact dialer for sales calls.
Nevertheless, it can be a powerful qualitative technique. The goal is to unearth insights into customers’ attitudes toward and beliefs about a product or service. Because the interviews are conducted one-to-one, it’s much easier to discover potential misunderstandings and resolve them on the spot. Additionally, the interviewer may spot non-verbal cues that are very revealing.
The main downside is that it’s expensive. If you do decide to go with user interviews, here are a few things to bear in mind:
Expertise pays off: it’s best to hire experienced interviewers if you don’t have some in-house. You wouldn’t get your new school-leaver hire to develop TensorFlow applications on day one. Nor should you assume interviewing can be covered by anyone; it’s a particular skill. Professional interviewers will be able to pick up on details other people miss and know how to steer the conversation in an unbiased way so that it remains focused and objective.
Establish an interview protocol in advance: you should have a written guide for the interview covering the questions to be asked and listing possible follow-up questions. All interviewers should stick to the same basic script.
Consent is key: Any interviews of this type should never go ahead without the express consent of the person being interviewed.
UX Research Results – a Final Word on What to Expect
From market price benchmarking to packaging optimization, there are a hundred things to think about every day in the eCommerce business. Embarking on any research program has to be worth the time and expense. So what benefits can you expect to see?
Well-performed UX research can impact your business positively in all kinds of ways. It can drive an increase in sign-ups, conversion rates, sales, and customer satisfaction. It can mean fewer customer service calls too, in the long run. After all, if you’re actively seeking out your customers’ pain points, you’ll be able to prevent problems before they start.
And when your customers are happy, that puts a smile on your face too, right?
Jessica Day – Senior Director, Marketing Strategy, Dialpad
Jessica Day is the Senior Director for Marketing Strategy at Dialpad, one of the competitors to line2, and a cloud communication platform that takes every kind of conversation to the next level—turning conversations into opportunities. Jessica is an expert in collaborating with multifunctional teams to execute and optimize marketing efforts, for both company and client campaigns. Jessica Day also published articles for domains such as Women Love Tech and HeyCarson. Here is her LinkedIn.